News / Middle East

Slow Progress in IAEA Probe May Complicate Iran Nuclear Talks

FILE - The reactor building of the Bushehr nuclear power plant just outside the southern city of Bushehr, Iran
FILE - The reactor building of the Bushehr nuclear power plant just outside the southern city of Bushehr, Iran
Reuters
Signs that a U.N. watchdog investigation into suspected atomic bomb research by Iran is making little progress could further complicate broader diplomacy on ending the decade-old nuclear dispute that resumes in Vienna on Tuesday.

The International Atomic Energy Agency (IAEA) indicated late on Monday, after a three-hour meeting with Iran, that more work was needed by the country in order to fully implement a series of nuclear transparency steps by a Thursday deadline.

The IAEA also made clear that no agreement had yet been reached with Iran on what issues to tackle in the next phase of a cooperation pact aimed at allaying fears that Tehran may be seeking to develop a nuclear weapons capability.

The outcome is likely to disappoint Western diplomats, who want Iran to move much faster in addressing the IAEA's questions about alleged activities that could be relevant for any bid to build a nuclear missile. Iran denies any such work.

"Everybody is fairly frustrated at the lack of progress," said one envoy who closely follows the Iran nuclear file.

The meeting took place a day before Iran and six world powers were due to start a new round of negotiations, also in the Austrian capital, aimed at reaching a final settlement of the standoff over Tehran's nuclear ambitions by late July.

Iran has offered to work with the IAEA in clarifying what the U.N. agency calls the possible military dimensions (PMD) of the country's nuclear program. But diplomats and experts say it would be difficult for Iran to admit to any past activity
contradicting its denials of allegations of a bomb agenda.

"Iran has real problems in addressing the PMD issues," said the Western diplomat, who is not from one of the six major powers negotiating with Iran - the United States, France, Germany, Britain, China and Russia.

There was no immediate comment from Tehran.

Iran's talks with the IAEA and with the powers are closely linked as both focus on fears that Iran may be covertly seeking a nuclear weapons capability. Iran says its uranium enrichment program is a peaceful energy project only.

Western diplomats say Iran must start engaging with the IAEA's long-stalled investigation and that this is central to the success of the broader negotiations.
 
West and Iran far apart

Under the cooperation agreement signed with the IAEA in November, Iran was to take seven practical measures by May 15 in a phased process to shed more light on its atomic activities.

Diplomatic sources told Reuters last Friday that the IAEA was seeking further clarification from Iran about the most sensitive of those steps, concerning fast-acting detonators that can have both military and civilian applications.

How Iran responds to questions about its development and need of this type of equipment is seen as an important test of its willingness to cooperate fully with the IAEA investigation.

Iran says it has already implemented the seven steps - including access to two uranium sites - but the sources said the IAEA still wanted more information about so-called Explosive Bridge Wire (EBW) detonators.

They said the IAEA also wanted to agree with Iran new measures to be taken after May 15, hoping these will address other sensitive issues linked to its nuclear bomb inquiry.

However, after Monday's apparently inconclusive meeting, the two sides did not even say when they would meet again.

Iran wants an end to sanctions that are badly hurting its oil-reliant economy. After years of a vitriolic and confrontational standoff with the West, the election last year of pragmatist Hassan Rouhani as Iran's president created a new atmosphere more conducive to settling disputes via diplomacy.

But diplomats and experts say Iran and the West remain far apart on what a long-term deal to resolve the dispute and dispel fears of a new Middle East war would look like.
"It's typical for negotiations to experience bumps, blocks and breakdowns," said Mark Fitzpatrick of the International Institute for Strategic Studies (IISS) think-tank.

In the Iran-IAEA talks, "the Iranian negotiators have to be wary of appearing to be too cooperative, lest they be accused back home of giving in," Fitzpatrick said.

You May Like

Brutality Eroding IS Financial Support

Director of National Intelligence James Clapper says IS's penchant for publicizing beheadings, other brutal forms of punishment hurts group’s bottom line More

Studies: Climate Change a Factor in Disasters in Syria, California

The studies point to the possibility of clear and present dangers from a threat often considered to be far in the future More

Video Afghan Refugees Complain of Harassment in Pakistan

Afghan officials and human rights organizations assert that Pakistani authorities are using deadly attack at school in Peshawar as pretext to push out Afghan refugees More

Featured Videos

Your JavaScript is turned off or you have an old version of Adobe's Flash Player. Get the latest Flash player.
Kerry Seeks Assurances of Russian Non-Interference in Ukrainei
X
March 03, 2015 3:11 AM
U.S. Secretary of State John Kerry has told his Russian counterpart, Sergei Lavrov, that his country could face further consequences to what he called its “already strained economy” if Moscow does not fully comply with a cease-fire in Ukraine. The two met, on Monday, on the sidelines of a U.N. Human Rights Council meeting in Geneva, where Kerry outlined human rights violations in Russian-annexed Crimea and eastern Ukraine. VOA State Department correspondent Pam Dockins reports from Geneva.
Video

Video Kerry Seeks Assurances of Russian Non-Interference in Ukraine

U.S. Secretary of State John Kerry has told his Russian counterpart, Sergei Lavrov, that his country could face further consequences to what he called its “already strained economy” if Moscow does not fully comply with a cease-fire in Ukraine. The two met, on Monday, on the sidelines of a U.N. Human Rights Council meeting in Geneva, where Kerry outlined human rights violations in Russian-annexed Crimea and eastern Ukraine. VOA State Department correspondent Pam Dockins reports from Geneva.
Video

Video Smartphones May Help in Diagnosing HIV

Diagnosing infections such as HIV requires expensive clinical tests, making the procedure too costly for many poor patients or those living in remote areas. But a new technology called lab-on-a-chip may make the tests more accessible to many. VOA’s George Putic reports.
Video

Video Afghan Refugees Complain of Harassment in Pakistan

Afghan officials have expressed concern over reports of a crackdown on Afghan refugees in Pakistan following the Peshawar school attack in December. Reports of mass arrests and police harassment coupled with fear of an uncertain future are making life difficult for a population that fled its homeland to escape war. VOA’s Ayesha Tanzeem reports from Islamabad.
Video

Video Ukrainian Volunteers Prepare to Defend Mariupol

Despite the ongoing ceasefire in Ukraine, soldiers in the city of Mariupol fear that pro-Russian separatists may be getting ready to attack. The separatists must take or encircle the city if they wish to gain land access to Crimea, which was annexed by Russia early last year. But Ukrainian forces, many of them volunteers, say they are determined to defend it. Patrick Wells reports from Mariupol.
Video

Video Moscow Restaurants Suffer in Bad Economy, Look for Opportunity

As low oil prices and Western sanctions force Russia's economy into recession, thousands of Moscow restaurants are expected to close their doors. Restaurant owners face rents tied to foreign currency, while rising food prices mean Russians are spending less when they dine out. One entrepreneur in Moscow has started a dinner kit delivery service for those who want to cook at home to save money but not skimp on quality. VOA's Daniel Schearf reports.
Video

Video US, Cuba Report Progress in Latest Talks to Restore Ties

The United States and Cuba say they have made progress in the second round of talks on restoring diplomatic relations more than 50 years after breaking off ties. Delegations from both sides met in Washington on Friday to work on opening embassies in Havana and Washington and iron out key obstacles to historic change. VOA’s Mary Alice Salinas reports from the State Department.
Video

Video Presidential Hopefuls Battle for Conservative Hearts and Minds

One after another, presumptive Republican presidential contenders auditioned for conservative support this week at the Conservative Political Action Conference held outside Washington. The rhetoric was tough as a large field of potential candidates tried to woo conservative support with red-meat attacks on President Barack Obama and Democrats in Congress. VOA Political Columnist Jim Malone takes a look.
Video

Video NYC's Restaurant Week: An Economic Boom in Fine Dining

New Yorkers take pride in setting world trends — in fashion, the arts and fine dining. The city’s famous biannual Restaurant Week plays a significant role in a booming tourism industry that sustains 359,000 jobs and generates $61 billion in yearly revenue. VOA's Ramon Taylor reports.
Video

Video Brookhaven at Cutting Edge of US Energy Research

Issues like the Keystone XL pipeline, fracking and instability in the Middle East are driving debate in the U.S. about making America energy independent. Recently, the American Energy Innovation Council urged Congress and the White House to make expanded energy research a priority. One beneficiary of increased energy spending would be the Brookhaven National Lab, where clean, renewable, efficient energy is the goal. VOA's Bernard Shusman reports.
Video

Video Southern US Cities Preserve Civil Rights Heritage to Boost Tourism

There has been a surge of interest in the American civil rights movement of the 1950s and '60s, thanks in part to the Hollywood motion picture "Selma." Five decades later, communities in the South are embracing the dark chapters of their past with hopes of luring tourism dollars. VOA's Chris Simkins reports.
Video

Video Deep Under Antarctic Ice Sheet, Life!

With the end of summer in the Southern hemisphere, the Antarctic research season is over. Scientists from Northern Illinois University are back in their laboratory after a 3-month expedition on the Ross Ice Shelf, the world’s largest floating ice sheet. As VOA’s Rosanne Skirble reports, they hope to find clues to explain the dynamics of the rapidly melting ice and its impact on sea level rise.
Video

Video Lao Dam Project Runs Into Opposition

A Lao dam project on a section of the Mekong River is drawing opposition from local fishermen, international environmental groups and neighboring countries. VOA's Say Mony visited the region to investigate the concerns. Colin Lovett narrates.

All About America

Circumventing Censorship

An Internet Primer for Healthy Web Habits

As surveillance and censoring technologies advance, so, too, do new tools for your computer or mobile device that help protect your privacy and break through Internet censorship.
More